Cincinnati Masters: Monfils Sparkles Against Djokovic … But Not For Long

Posted: August 20, 2011 by rjsays in Tennis
Tags: , , ,

Rajat jain

Head of Tennis, The CouchExpert

20 August 2011


“Not a shot from the back of the court that he doesn’t have.” Patrick McEnroe said this about Novak Djokovic just-like-that today, but I suddenly realized how much truth it carried. The lack of any weakness from the back of court, in addition to his incredible defense and supreme movement, makes it virtually impossible for any player, including Federer and Nadal, to trade ground strokes with Novak.

Djokovic came from a set down to beat Monfils in a thrilling contest

Of course, it took a while for the world No. 1 to get into that mode where he becomes impossible to play. Partly because he was down mentally—he just seemed uninterested to compete for the first half of the match—and partly because Monfils knew only a vintage Pete Sampras can compete against Djokovic. Monfils tried to take out the baseline out of the equation as early in any rally as possible. He followed almost all his first serves to the net, tried chipping and charging even when he was a standing duck to Djokovic’s passes, and hit flat, clean, winners from the baseline.

Vintage Monfils. The Monfils we know can come out some times. The Monfils we wish will come out every time.

His quality of the volleys would have even made Sampras, if not Edberg, proud and combined with Djokovic’s lack of mental focus, it seemed it would be the first time since Montreal Masters, 2009, when Federer, Nadal and Djokovic would lose on the same day.

However, this was another one of those matches in which Djokovic reaped the advantages of being …. Novak Djokovic. The world No. 1. Out of nowhere, and I don’t know why, Monfils started trading groundies with the Djoker—the very thing he had avoided till then. He waited for Djokovic’s errors—which didn’t come—and traded two brutal rallies, both exceeding thirty shots. After the second one, he lost his breath, just like it happened to Tsonga and Fish in Montreal, and looked completely out of the match after that. It also gave the necessary impetus to Djokovic to get back his mental focus.

After winning the second of those brutal rallies, he faced the crowd, open chested, with both arms flexed forward and roared loudly. The lion had woken up again, and just came out of his den. And the wolf was panting heavily, waiting to be preyed by the king of the jungle. Djokovic played it easy after that, slowly killing and enjoying the prey, rather than finishing it off in a hurry.

This match further proved his credentials as the top player and why I feel he is going to stay here for some time. Throughout this tournament, I felt Djokovic lacked the physical and mental energy to play at his inhuman level. And it is understandable given how hard he has played, and won, so far. However, it just took him two points to get back his focus. Once the match ended, he let out another roar towards his camp, and sprinted towards the net to complete the formalities. And this is what champions do. This is what they are known for. Djokovic is back in this tournament, and means business. For him, that means going all the way and winning the tournament.


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